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Extreme-right Parties in Eastern Europe

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From the moment the Berlin Wall came down scholars and politicians around the world expressed concern about an upsurge of extreme-right politics in Eastern Europe. Dramatic events like the Yugoslav conflict and even the so-called 'velvet split' of Czechoslovakia only strengthened this fear. Despite these many general warnings about the rise of extreme right parties (ERPs) in Eastern Europe very little empirical work has appeared on the subject. Mudde's article provides an analytical tool which will help to further understanding of the extreme right in the region. It presents and applies a fairly straightforward typology of ERPs in Eastern Europe based on the (ideological) character of the parties. The pre-Communist ERP locates the origin of its ideological identity in political parties and ideas of the pre-Communist period, generally harking back to national-conservative, monarchist, or indigenous or foreign fascist ideals. The character of the party might be expressed in the open espousal of pre-Communist ideas or by using the associated 'folklore', while in some cases there might even be continuity in personnel or organizations (often through the émigré community). With the notable exceptions of Croatia and Slovakia, pre-Communist ERPs have remained marginal in post-Communist political life. The Communist ERP looks for ideological inspiration in the Communist period and includes nationalist splits of the (former) Communist parties as well as new parties that combine a nationalist ideology with a nostalgia for Communist rule. They are mainly successful in countries where the Communist regime had a strong nationalist undercurrent and the party is still in the hands of hardliners (e.g. Romania and Russia). Post-Communist ERPs, finally, locate the source of their identities in the post-Communist period: these organizations are new and their focus is on current political issues. They harbour no feelings of nostalgia, either for the pre-Communist or the Communist period. Post-Communist ERPs have developed in most East European countries but, although some have achieved remarkable electoral successes, in general they have been only moderately successful (similar to ERPs in Western Europe).

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Keywords: Communist parties; Eastern Europe; Zhirinovsky; extreme right; nationalism; party ideology; political parties; post-Communism; red-brown coalition

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: University of Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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